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Show organizers tout relocation of tire trade fair

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ESSEN, Germany—The Reifen tire trade fair's decision to move from its traditional home in Essen after 60 years and co-locate with Automechanika in Frankfurt, Germany, in September 2018 likely will impact more than one event and one city.

The move to cooperate opens up the opportunity to include Reifen and its emphasis on tires with Automechanika trade exhibitions, which cater to the auto aftermarket, in 14 additional locations in 13 countries worldwide, organizers of both trade fairs said in a news conference on May 24, the first day of Reifen 2016 in Essen.

“This is the roll out in the upcoming years to put the Reifen next to Automechanika shows around the world,” said Michael Johannes, vice president of Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH. “This will be step by step. It's not coming overnight, but we are working to bring Reifen to our Automechanika shows.”

This includes in the U.S., where the next North American Automechanika is scheduled to take place July 26-29, 2017, in Chicago.

“I am quite optimistic that it will be a significant part in Chicago in 2017,” Johannes said.

Asked whether this will put the combined Reifen/Automechanika Chicago in direct competition with the huge Specialty Equipment Market Association show held annually in Las Vegas, Johannes said: “SEMA is in the West, and we are in the Northeast, so I think there is enough room.”

The two shows, he added, also are slightly different in concept.

“We think that the merger of Reifen and Automechanika is just a logical step to do, because we know that there are lower and lower margins in the tire business, and people want to compensate for this in order to get more and more into the garage and workshop concept,” he said.

“This is a global trend that we see everywhere and also the car dealers who are more and more into the tire business in the future.”

Reifen and Automechanika, both held biennially, decided to co-locate their trade fairs to address the changing tire and automotive aftermarket.

But co-locating Reifen with Automechanika in Frankfurt also will provide more international exposure to Reifen exhibitors, said Oliver Kuhrt, CEO of Messe Essen GmbH., the trade exhibition company in the city.

Key accounts have been asking, “What can you do to also tap into emerging markets?” he said.

Combined, Reifen and Automechanika can offer 15 events in 14 countries, with a global attendance of 500,000 visitors and nearly 4,300 exhibitors, the organizers said. This opens up the possibility of offering package programs to companies wanting to exhibit in multiple Automechanika locations, Kuhrt said.

The move to co-locate Reifen with Automechanika in Frankfurt also avoids a collision between Reifen and a new tire show, Tire Cologne, in Cologne, Germany, which is scheduled to take place in May 2018 at the same time as Reifen was set to run, had it remained in Essen. The two German cities, Essen and Cologne, are roughly 40 miles apart.

Tire Cologne is being organized by the BRV, Germany's tire retailer and retreader trade association, which had a falling out with the organizers of Reifen after previously supporting the show for the past few decades.

One of the BRV's concerns revolved around the need to upgrade the facilities of Messe Essen, a move taking place at a cost of $140 million. Of the roughly 20,000 visitors to Reifen, about 1,900 are members of the BRV, Kuhrt said.

In discussions the day prior to the start of Reifen 2016, Kuhrt said he was happy “to see clear indications that exhibitors do really see the added value they can now have because the two events (Reifen and Automechanika) are together.”

Kuhrt further suggested that had the BRV “waited for another three months they probably would have taken a different decision. Perhaps we would have taken the decision for Frankfurt without the BRV as well, because we just thought that this is the right decision that was also supported by the industry because we will have a high synergy effect.”